Roti – also called Phulka or Chapati is very similar to the Mexican Tortilla. This was one cooking technique I was under the impression I would never be able to master. It did not mean that I gave up ……
Oh Ok ! I did give up for a while;… But only for a short while. The persistence has paid off though. I most probably still cannot make perfect rotis like the North Indian Pro’s who have grown up making rotis regularly, but the ones I make now don’t turn out crisp or get hard. They remain soft even after being refrigerated for a couple of days. Mostly the trick it seems is in how you knead the dough. The first thing I learnt was to use boiling hot water to knead the dough. Recently I had been told by a friend ( one of the Roti Pros as I call them) that hot water is not necessary, but I will stick to it, as it seems to have worked for me. My personal opinion is that the rotis taste a bit better when made that way. It had also made a difference in making the rotis stay soft.
The next thing I had learnt was that my dough was a bit too dry. I always ended up adding a bit more flour while kneading as I found the dough a bit sticky. The same Roti Pro friend had pointed out that my dough was a bit on the dry side. Since then I have modified the water to flour ratio and it sure has made a difference. Whole wheat flour tends to absorb more water so I usually let the dough sit for ten minutes after mixing in the water initially and knead again. The short resting period gives time for the dough to absorb the water and it is not sticky anymore to while kneading, thus eliminating the need to add more flour.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour ( plus extra for rolling out the rotis)
- 1 ¼ cups hot water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Put the 2 cups of flour in a wide shallow bottom vessel or on a clean surface you would like to knead your dough on.
- Add the salt and olive oil and mix it into the flour.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in a cup of hot water. Mix well with a spoon.
- Add more water a table spoon at a time until the dough comes together.
- If it is cool enough that you can touch the dough just bring together all the dough cover and let it rest for 10 min. If it is still hot, then use the spoon to do the same before resting it.
- After 10 minutes knead the dough for five minutes and then make equal sized balls of dough, a little smaller that a golf ball. This will make about 8-10 balls of dough.
- Cover and let the dough balls rest for another half hour at least.
- Heat an iron girdle on the stove on high.
- Flatten a dough ball slightly in the palm of your hand. Cover it well with flour by dabbing it in extra flour.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Keep rotating the roti during the rolling process to get a round shape.
- Reduce heat to medium under the girdle and put the roti on it.
- If the pan is hot enough small air bubbles should be visible on the rotis surface within 5 seconds.
- Flip it over on the other side for 10 seconds.
- Flip back again and now dab on the roti with a clean rolled up kitchen towel. Apply even pressure and dab all over it.
- The roti will start to puff up. A perfect roti would puff up all over. If you feel the other side need to cook a little longer flip over again for a few seconds before removing from heat.
- Remove immediately and serve hot.
- If you are going to serve them later stack them up and put them between to kitchen towels to prevent condensation or drying out.
- Rotis need to be kept covered always or they will dry out in a couple of hours.
- If you plan to refrigerate them put them in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel. The paper towel will absorb any condensation in the bag that might occur due to refrigeration.